Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Messing with the Meade DSI - Moon and M42

I set the LX200 up out front tonight, with nice mains power going to both the scope and the laptop PC. I wanted to get a decent amount of time to play with the astrophotography setup I have put together without worrying about running out of batteries, and this was a decent solution. Granted, I was under a streetlamp and next to some bright Christmas lights from the neighbors, not to mention a nice big full moon.

Results were decent enough. I put it on the Moon first and took a shot of the Tycho region. The image here is about 12 stacked images, with a little bit of sharpening in good old Photoshop. Compared with the LPI, the DSI camera is much easier to use and has a better tracking function using the drizzle software (a.k.a. "Envisage"). I self-guided the shots as my alt-az alignment was a bit shabby, but the end result is not too bad at all.

I then moved onto M42 (Orion Nebula) as it got high enough in the sky. Took me ages to figure out the right exposure settings etc. Eventually I got some images that were semi-decent. The best image is here as well. It's 60 images stacked, each image about .7 seconds. Definitely not an image I would want to publish anywhere except here on the blog, but for my first serious attempt at M42 it's quite okay. Keeping the light down of the actual stars is really hard, not sure how to get around that. But, the nebulosity looks decent and the shape of the nebula looks about right compared with other pictures I have seen.

These are images taken without an equatorial wedge, so I know I can do heaps better than this. But right now I'm just learning the software so that when I do get a wedge, I can be up-to-speed and start taking some decent snaps.

With the time I had left (it was getting late, and the temp had dropped down to 38F), I tried out the Nebulosity software a colleague had recommended. It was actually pretty good, but I need to get a wedge before I can use it properly. MUCH easier to use than the Meade software that's for sure. So, I will get a wedge, reticle eyepiece and Nebulosity software (in the order) and then I will be rocking!

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